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What is Apple's iCloud and what does it backup?



  iCloud storage section displayed on iPhone

iCloud is Apple's umbrella term for each cloud synchronization feature. In principle, anything that is backed up or synchronized with Apple's servers is considered part of iCloud. Wondering what it is? Let's break it down.

What is iCloud?

iCloud is Apple's name for all its cloud-based services. It ranges from iCloud records, calendars, Find my iPhone, to iCloud Photos and Apple Music Library (not to mention, backup of devices).

Visit iCloud.com on your device and log in with your Apple account to see all your cloud synced data in one place.

 iCloud Website

The purpose of iCloud is to store data and important information securely on Apple's remote servers (as opposed to your iPhone or iPad). This way, all information is backed up to a secure location and synchronized between all your devices.

Having your information backed up to the cloud has two benefits. If you ever lose your Apple device, your information (from contacts to photos) will be stored in iCloud. You can then go to iCloud.com to retrieve this data or log in with your Apple ID to automatically restore all this data on your new Apple device.

The second advantage is seamless and almost invisible. It may be something you already take for granted. It is iCloud that syncs your notes and calendar appointments between your iPhone, iPad and Mac. It does this for many layers of Apple apps and even third-party apps that you have connected to iCloud.

Now that we have a clear understanding of iCloud, let's take a look at what it backs up.

What does iCloud Backup do?

Here is everything iCloud can back up and sync to its servers from your iPhone, iPad or Mac:

  • Contacts: If you use your iCloud account as your default account account, it will sync all your contacts to iCloud servers.
  • Calendar: All calendar meetings made with your iCloud account are backed up to iCloud servers.
  • Notes: All notes and attachments in the Apple Notes app on all your devices are synchronized and saved in iCloud. You can also access them from iCloud.com.
  • iWork apps: All data you have in the Pages app, Keynote and Numbers will be uploaded and stored in iCloud, which means that all your documents are safe even if you drop your iPhone or iPad.
  • Photos: If you have enabled the iCloud Photos feature from Settings> Photos, all photos from your camera roll will be uploaded and backed up to iCloud (you will have enough storage space). You can download these photos from iCloud.com.
  • Music: If you have Apple Music Library enabled, your local music collection will be synced and uploaded to iCloud servers and will be available on all devices.
  • iCloud Drive: All files and folders stored in iCloud Drive are automatically synchronized to iCloud servers. Even if you drop your iPhone or iPad, these files will be safe (just make sure the files are not saved in the section My iPhone or My iPad in the Files app).
  • App Data : If enabled, Apple will back up the app data for the current app. When you restore your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup, the app is restored along with app data.
  • Device and Device Settings: If you have enabled iCloud Backup (Settings> Profile> iCloud> iCloud Backup), all essential data from your device such as linked accounts, home screen configuration, device settings, iMessage and more will uploads to iCloud. All this data can be downloaded again when you reset your iPhone or iPad with iCloud.
  • Purchase History: iCloud also keeps track of all your purchases from the App Store and iTunes Store so you can go back at any time and download an app, book, movie, music or TV show.
  • Apple Watch Backups: If you have enabled iCloud backup for your iPhone, it will automatically back up your Apple Watch as well.
  • Messages: iCloud backs up the content of the Messages app, including iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages.
  • Visual Voicemail Password: iCloud backs up the Visual Voicemail password that you can reset after you insert the same SIM card used during the backup process.
  • Voice Memos: All recordings from the Voice Memos app can also be backed up to iCloud.
  • Bookmarks: All Safari bookmarks are backed up to iCloud and synchronized between all your devices.
  • Heal th Data: Apple is now also backing up secure health data on your iPhone. This means that even if you lose an iPhone, you will not lose many years of health tracking data such as workouts and body measurements.

This is all iCloud can back up, but the particular set of your iCloud account will differ. To see everything that your iCloud account backs up, open the "Settings" app on your iPhone or iPad, select your profile at the top of the list, and then go to the "iCloud" section.

 iCloud Manage iPhone Storage

Here you browse around to see all features enabled (such as iCloud Photos and iCloud Backup for devices). You can also enable or disable backup of app data for some apps from here.

 iCloud Apps on iPhone

If you run out of iCloud storage, go to the "Manage Storage" section of iCloud. Here you can upgrade to a monthly plan with more storage. You can buy 50 GB for $ 0.99 / month, 200 GB for $ 2.99 / month and 2 TB for $ 9.99 / month.

Alternatively, try these tips to free up iCloud storage.

RELATED: How to free iCloud Storage Space


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